Promoting Sustainable Organic Agriculture in Zambia

The agricultural landscape in Zambia is dominated by smallholder farmers. A total of 1.47 million households benefit from primary agricultural activities within the smallholder sector. Farming methods vary from conventional to organic farming.

Landscape management is critical to food security. One of the ways Solidaridad is advancing the landscape management agenda in Zambia is by presenting alternative farming methods through its advocacy and lobby programme, The Sustainable Landscape Management Programme.

The use of synthetic chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides can have negative effects on the environment and cause respiratory ailments.Improper use of synthetic chemicals also result in plant loss and soil imbalance. This may cause depletion of other important minerals in the soil.  ​

Contributing to Long-term Sustainable Management of the Mazabuka Landscape

For this reason, Solidaridad in partnership with Kasisi Agriculture Training Centre hosted a two day training to contribute to long-term sustainable management of the Mazabuka Landscape in the Lower Kafue Sub Basin.

This workshop presented Sustainable Organic Agriculture as an environmentally friendly, economically viable and socially-just farming system which encourages the recycling of on-farm resources. The training was attended by the Mazabuka Council staff, students from schools within the region and smallholder farmers.

Teaching The Benefits of Sustainable Organic Agriculture

“Sustainable Organic Agriculture is important because it provides an alternative farming system” says Dr Henrietta Kalinda, Deputy Executive Director at the Kasisi Agriculture Training Centre.

“Sustainable Organic Agriculture ensures the environment is used and managed sustainably as it uses very little external inputs, which are damaging and expensive.”

Training is an important step to educate individuals on the principles of sustainable management and introduce essential skills. The Kasisi Agriculture Training Centre transitioned to Sustainable Organic Agriculture in the 1990s to promote a strong bearing on maintaining soil fertility.

Building Resiliance to Climate Change

This approach recognises that healthy soil is the beginning of high production and enables the soil to be resilient to factors such as flooding and long dry spells. The adaptation rate from the farmer is sparked through recognition that their crops fare much better and have a more steady yield.

After this training, an extension service was provided to follow up with trainees to assess what they had learnt. This service assessed knowledge gaps and how best to address compliance issues.

Speaking at this workshop, Solidaridad Zambia/Malawi Country Manager, Angela Mulenga explained that the objective was for council members to get proper knowledge on Sustainable Organic Agriculture to take back and teach the farmers in Mazabuka district.

The Sustainable Land Management Programme

She added that the Sustainable Land Management Programme plays a pivotal role in economic and social development through its contribution to employment, food security, wealth, economic growth and the development of the manufacturing industry. She said, "As Government, we are partners with all farmers and it is our role to make sure we secure a proper market so they can receive good income."

"My office will be ready to find a market for our farmers in our chain stores because we know that the organically grown food is mostly sold in chain stores.”

She advised all farmers who will be trained under the Sustainable Organic Agriculture programme to make good use of the knowledge that they will gain and put into practice.

Boosting Farmer Self-Reliance 

Present at the training was Mazabuka District Commissioner, Jane Chirwa who thanked Solidaridad for this programme. She stressed that the district leadership will ensure that all Sustainable Land Management programmes are implemented in the district.

A farmer practicing Sustainable Organic Agriculture, Kelly Kalolo said that the Sustainable Organic Agriculture trainings have helped him to become self-reliant as he does not have to use synthetic chemicals and instead can use home-made manure using leftover materials from the farm.

Mr Kalolo said that the basic principles taught provided wide flexibility to enable application under different environmental, economic and social environment factors. He added that since putting into practice what he was taught on his six hectare farm,  his crop variation has increased to include cow-peas, maize, avocados, lemons, bananas and yam instead of focussing on maize alone.